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Runaway?

Published: May 14 , 2018
Author: Brian Buck

“We can’t sign an annual contract”. That was the bad news from our newly acquired client. We fought hard and beat out 8 other agencies to win this business from a highly sought after top tier brand. Unfortunately, things started to go awry before we even got started because they wouldn’t agree to our standard terms. We faced the difficult choice of either walking away or doing something we haven’t done.

For this program we needed to hire talent to meet demand and having an annual contract was critical to attracting great talent. Most everyone understands and accepts the risk of an annual client contract but anything less makes it difficult to recruit the right talent. We explained this to our client many different ways and he kept saying the same thing, “I understand and we’ll have to take that risk because I can’t sign an annual contract.”

We were relentless in trying to persuade him to sign an annual contract and the only thing we accomplished was making him more and more frustrated. It wasn’t till we asked him why he can’t sign an annual contract that things started to change. What we discovered is that for new initiatives, his company did quarterly fiscal planning. This means they can only fund a new initiative a quarter at a time and after a year, the new initiative could shift to annual fiscal planning. As such, they could not sign any contracts that financially committed them beyond a quarter at a time. Amazing what you learn when you are actually listening and asking questions instead of being stuck in persuasion mode!

At this point, we realized that we had a packaging issue. He actually had no philosophical issue with an annual agreement he just didn’t have the authority to do it at that point. However, if we could repackage the proposal so that he got what he needed and we got what we needed, we’d be in good shape. This didn’t mean we needed to add or remove value, we just needed to move the variables around so he could sell it internally and we could sell it to potential talent.

Our solution became obvious once we got out of our own way. We repackaged the proposal so that we gave him a quarterly agreement that he could sell internally. In return, we needed to have the contract renew automatically every quarter (unless he notified us 90-days prior to the start of a quarter that it wouldn’t renew; this gave him the out he needed) then at the year mark, the contract would convert to an auto-renewing annual contract.

This new solution gave us the ability to recruit new talent because we could legitimately tell new talent that we had an auto renewing contract that would only be cancelled if we didn’t do our job. But if something were to happen beyond our control, they would be given at least a 90-day notice. Something everyone was comfortable with.

For our client, we gave him something that he had the authority to sign and the ability to sell internally. After a couple of minor tweaks, the deal was signed and we were on our way to what would become a very fruitful relationship.

The things I remember the most about that experience are:

  1. Listen. We spent too much time trying to persuade our POV versus listening to the real need.
  2. Be curious. We weren’t curious enough on why he couldn't sign an annual agreement. We made bad assumptions, wasted time, and created a lot of frustration.
  3. Get creative. Once we knew the need and understood the drivers behind them, we just got creative on how to repackage the proposal to meet everyone’s needs.

Remember, repackaging is not about giving or taking more value, it’s about reconfiguring the variables in a way that makes the proposal more acceptable for everyone involved.

 

Don't Runaway!!!

Before running away from your negotiation, call us! You'd be amazed on what we can do to help you improve your negotiations.

Scotwork can help gain greater control and confidence in your negotiations. Don't hesitate to reach out to us either get expert consulting advice or to put yourself on a path to being a better negotiator. Either way we can certainly turn your negotiation from a point of stress to an advantage. Talk to one of our experts today. 


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About the author:

Brian Buck
As an entrepreneur, business owner, and Fortune 500 business executive, Brian has spent his career building winning teams and driving successful companies. Brian has spent the last 20 years within the marketing and advertising industry developing successful consumer engagement marketing strategies for trusted brands such as Google, Amazon, Samsung, Virgin Mobile, Microsoft and Sony.

Read more about Brian Buck

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Latest Blog:

The Agency of "No"

It had been three months since the start of our relationship with our new client. My team had bent over backwards keeping the client happy. Every day the phone rang with a new demand or a new priority. When we got those calls, my team would do their best to convince the client it wasn’t a good idea to change direction so often but eventually, they would acquiescence and do what the client asked. Everyone believed that’s what we needed to do make them happy. ​​​​​​​ At our first quarterly review, the team was excited to hear how they were doing. The client started the conversation by saying, “We’ve never seen this before, but you have become known as the agency of No”. My team was devastated. They felt like they went the extra mile, every time but yet it seem to go completely unappreciated. Turning this around wasn’t going to be easy.

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